Nollywood actress, Treasure Chioma Ezem, the brain behind Made in Nigeria Fashion Audition (MINSFA) is the CEO of TreasureBlues Entertainment World.
Driven to higher heights by passion, Ezem is now set to take the bull by the horns as she presents the grand finale of MINSFA in October in Abuja.
In this interview, she likened MINSFA grand finale to a final football match competition which starts with team competitions until the best plays the final. Excerpts:
What do you want us to know about MINSFA?
Made in Nigeria Fashion Audition has taken us to all the 36 states in Nigeria where we did preliminary fashion shows to get the best to compete at the finals in Abuja. Various designers and models from different states filed out to bring out their fashion trend to compete for the grand finale which will come up in October. Then the winner stands a chance to represent Nigeria in the Made in Africa fashion show in South Africa. We started this event in 2017 and were through with the South-south states in the year. We also got through with some parts of the North in 2019. For COVID-19, we were unable to do anything and concluded in 2021. The purpose is to make models and fashion designers to believe in themselves and stand for any competition. I realized we have creative people and creativity in this country and we, therefore, need to showcase our work and talent outside there. Already some of our American friends are partnering with us with life streaming, sending out the videos and broadcast on their televisions in their own countries. In 2017 when we had Made in Nigeria State Otta, Ogun State edition fashion show in Abeokuta, one of our foreign partners picked interest in a designer’s work and that is where the foreigner gets all his African fashion and accessories from till date.
You are not the first to showcase African fashion to the world. What is your unique selling point?
What stands us out is the healthy competition which unites us all in spite of the economic challenge in the country; we can have reason to come together, laugh and catch fun. Again, it gives us a competitive edge to stand in place of recognition nationally and internationally.
Who are the sponsors behind this project, especially traveling round the whole country?
This project is self-sponsored because of the passion I have for what I am doing. Every expense comes from my pocket though I wrote proposals for sponsorships to corporate bodies. As there is delay in financial support, I disguise myself and get into a construction site, work all day and get paid to complete my project in any state I found myself. I am also supported by my family, friends and colleagues.
How do you scout for designers and models in far Northern states?
For the sake of insecurity in those far Northern states, I got many designers and student models online and we agreed for the job to be carried out. Otherwise, we were present in the other states. They model and the designers were quite supportive and excited with the show seeing that they are remembered in spite of their environmental situation. With their lifted spirit, money was not a problem for us at all. The greatest of it all is that the designers do not do clothing alone, but all fashionable pieces like shoes, bags, belt, jewelery, accessories slippers etc. One of such designers was Ifiok Thompson from Akwa Ibom State whose fashion clientele grew after she showcased her work in her state.
How did the interest start?
I joined Nollywood after my secondary school education when JAMB frustrated me over times. After watching movies on CDs, I would call, but one of the days, I set out to look for the MacDavos hotel where auditions take place. After I was auditioned for several times, I didn’t get the roles for my strict attitude to the work. I knew I have the talent, but a victim of not showcasing them. As a young girl, my father noticed my entertainment pedigree and started grooming me from time. He would take me to children’s entertainment circles to compete, play and showcase what I have. Even with my MINSFA project, he is my number one cheer leader and supporter. While in I have costumed so many actors like Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Genevieve Nnaji, Ramsey Noah, Ini Edo, Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze popularly known as Aki and Paw-Paw. Emalex productions and Bollywood do invite me for works which I do and get my pay. It is from costuming actors that the interest started. When one is given an actor to costume, it calls for thinking and creativity of what the character would like when he appears. So, when I costume and see that our actors showcase more of foreign fashions than ours, it gave me concern why our fashion and culture can’t be our pride. Sometimes our attire are even more attractive, so we are here in MINSFA to tell the foreign countries that Africans have what it takes to be on the run and walkways. I am also collaborating with other African countries to achieve this dream.
How was growing Up?
I am the first in a family of six with boys following me and we all grew up like Tom-boys. I had my primary education at Nigercem Nursery and Primary school, a former cement company in Enugu where my father worked then. I attended Girls Grammar school Awkunanaw, in Enugu State and Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic where I studied Accounting and worked with a few corporate organizations. In 2019, I contested as a councilor at GRA Ikeja under PDP as the only single lady who went into contest in the whole of Lagos State.